- On September 20, 2017
Katie S., a 17-year-old high school senior, began suffering from headaches and hand and leg numbness in late 2016. As a result, experienced a significant fall, hitting her head and suffered a seizure. She was admitted to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix and diagnosed with a large intracranial hemorrhage and encephalomalacia (softening or loss of brand tissue). She was not expected to survive. After an emergency craniotomy (partial removal of her skull), she became dependent on a ventilator and was non responsive, non verbal and non ambulatory.
Upon arrival to CareMeridian Phoenix in January 2017, “Katie Bug” — in a semi-comatose state — was unable to follow verbal commands and only responding generally to pain. With aggressive cognitive therapy, Katie began to show meaningful improvement and slowly able to indicate gestures of response.
CareMeridian’s speech therapist (also Katie) patiently worked with Katie Bug to motivate her to communicate with others. Physical therapist Jason started Katie with stretching and passive range of motion exercises and electrical stimulation to facilitate muscle contractions. As Katie improved, occupational therapist Anna worked daily with her in movement and muscle coordination to allow her to undertake simple activities such as dressing and eating. Katie said, “I hated occupational therapy because it hurt so much. But now it’s my favorite because I can eat ice cream in therapy.” Recreational therapist Savannah further enhanced Katie’s overall improvement by reading to her, providing aromatherapy and gentle sensory stimulation.
After four months at CareMeridian Phoenix, Katie was discharged to acute rehab. At that time, she was able to eat and drink a regular diet, her trach and feeding tubes had been removed, and she could communicate and joke in full sentences with a slow and soft voice. She was able to stand with minimal assistance and could brush her own teeth. Outside of therapy, she focused on completing her studies with the assistance of dedicated teachers and eventually “walked” in a wheelchair across the stage on graduation day to accept her high school diploma.
Her parents say “Our Katie would never have improved so dramatically without the significant efforts of the CareMeridian team. They are family to us now.” The Phoenix team is excited to seeing Katie Bug’s future progress.